Sunday, April 20, 2008

The outrage is ours

Tonda MacCharles of the Toronto Star, an invited reporter to the Conservatives' selective briefing of the media yesterday adds to the news of the night regarding the semi-released search warrant. Notable from her report is the aggressive tone that Conservative officials apparently displayed during the briefing. I take that from these passages in her report:
Outraged over the unprecedented search, officials of the Conservative Party of Canada released the package of nearly 650 pages of the search warrant documents today.
But the officials denied the party deliberately sought to skirt national limits by using up spending room in local campaigns that were less likely to produce wins for the party, or that the Conservatives sought to direct media spending into ridings that were more likely to win them.

They scoffed at suggestions it might have made the difference in a dozen or so ridings and won the election, saying it is "crap."
Party officials said the search was sweeping and "outrageous."
Dropping the moderate language about a "visit" from investigators, supported by the RCMP, they said Elections Canada "stormed" the party's headquarters.
(emphasis added throughout)

Outrageous..scoffing...crap..."stormed." Excuse me you anonymous partisan windbags, but as a Canadian taxpayer, I believe the outrage is properly ours. And it should be properly directed at this Conservative government for authorizing a continued war against Elections Canada, an independent, non-partisan institution in this unprecedented manner. And for having the nerve to incite the notion that people should be outraged at the process undertaken here by Elections Canada. That people should suspect Elections Canada and question their independence. What kind of government does that? It's just not believable to think that Elections Canada has all of a sudden turned into a renegade agency populated by "Liberal moles" with the avowed partisan purpose of harming the government. Just ain't buyin' it, Conservatives. Elections Canada is not in the business of storming anything.

And of course, we should also be outraged at the alleged scheme the Conservatives undertook which put them at a million dollar competitive advantage against other parties. Such schemes shake the foundation of our democracy. Those are the substantive points that all this huffing and puffing about process should not detract from.

Speaking of substance, MacCharles also reports on an email that was among the documentation that is potentially damaging:
Senior party officials took the unusual step of briefing a limited number of reporters on the documents at a downtown hotel Sunday afternoon.

Speaking on condition they not be identified by name, they framed some potentially more damaging emails that Lamothe cited in his package.

One of those emails included an email by an employee at the party's media buying agency referring to a call from the head of the Conservative Fund, Irving Gerstein.

"They may be spending up to their legal limit on this campaign," wrote David Campbell advising others of Gerstein's call. "They are also thinking of 'switching' some of the time over to the ridings. It sounded like the reason was to legally maximize advertising expenditures."
(emphasis added)
Really? Because an equally plausible interpretation of that comment is that it sounded like the reason was to exceed the Conservative party's national spending limit. And that's why we're all here reading such things.

Lots more of this to come...